Chako – Recycling waste for a better future

Minor International Entrepreneurship & Development 2017

Stonetown, Zanzibar

David van Nijen
Marleen Ophorst
Roos Köbben

Chako is a social enterprise located in Stonetown, the capital city of the island group Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a semi-independent part of mainland Tanzania. Chako was founded in 2010 to raise economic opportunity on the island. They work according the 'Tourist2Tourist' concept, meaning they make souvenirs for tourists from the waste that tourists directly produce on the island. This way, Chako strives to create more jobs for poor youth (especially woman), reduce waste on the island and create a more sustainable Zanzibar. For the tourists, they offer a way to reduce their negative impact on the island with a positive approach; by buying original, innovative souvenirs for friends and family.

The team currently consists of 10 women and 7 men. Chako recently joined WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation) as a member and is now ready to grow its activities. Besides they gain more popularity among tourists. That is why they are searching for a new location to be able to expand their workshop and be more visible for tourists. This is where we join in under the name Chako Upscaled. Our main goal is to help with the expansion. We will help designing a new workplace and determine the amount of money needed. With this information, we will try to recruit funds and make a 3-year business plan. During our internship, there will be times in which we cannot do anything for the expansion. For example, the process of buying land could take some time. We have come up with things we can do during this waiting time:

  • We will visit resorts/restaurants to set up a partnership with Chako. For example, they can use products of Chako to decorate their place. In this way, Chako indirectly approaches tourists. Help with the promotion of Chako by making a video of their activities.
  • We could also improve their Facebook page by posting stories about the partners of Chako.
  • Improving the tours/workshops they give to tourists already.
  • Designing a product to make lamps waterproof. They would like to have a special kind of cork to close the opening at the top of the bottle.

We are excited to leave for Zanzibar on the 6th of November. When we come back after three months, we hope to leave a cleaner and more sustainable Zanzibar behind.

Our internship took place at the company Chako in Zanzibar. Chako makes interior design products from the waste that tourists directly produce on the island. Our main goal of this internship was to help Chako with sustainably expanding their business. As Chako is growing they are ready to move to a bigger workplace outside of Stone Town on the main road to Nungwi more visible for tourists. Together with the founders, the manager and the employees of Chako we have been designing a new and bigger workplace. For the reason that Chako is a recycling company we strived to make the workplace as sustainable as possible. That is why we added second hand shipping containers into the design. Also, solar panels will be installed. A local contractor calculated all the cost for the building and when we had the costs we started raising funds for Chako to make sure they can pay for the new workplace. Different funds agreed to support us and after this internship we can proudly say that we raised all the money for the building of the new workplace. Unfortunately, we could not be there when the building will start, because buying the land caused some delay. We left the owners of Chako with the architectural plan and within the next three months Chako will start building the new workplace. When the new workplace is there Chako should be able to finance the solar panels with profit made from having the bigger workplace.

Another thing we have done is setting up new partnerships between Chako and hotels/resorts. In this way Chako has a more stable income which they can invest into the new workplace. At the moment the manager of Chako is responsible for setting up new partnerships. However, as he is really busy with other things for Chako he does not have enough time for setting up new partnerships. That is why they are looking for a new marketing & sales person who will be 24/7 engaged in setting up new partnerships and maintaining current partnerships. In the process of setting up new partnerships we had to teach two employees of Chako the marketing & sales function. The process started with locating all resorts on the island on a big map and in a big excel sheet. After we have done this, we emailed all the resorts and when they did not respond we called them. This took us a long time, but the effort was worth it. We managed to make appointments with four resorts on the island. When visiting the resorts, we took the employees of Chako with us to give them a practical view on how we handle a business meeting. The business meetings we had were very different from each other. At some meetings the manager of the resorts was telling her whole life story as other meetings took just 10 minutes. The business meetings went well and in the end, we left Chako with four new selling points for Chako products and two potential resorts who are interested in decorating there place with Chako products. After these business meetings we gave some training to the employees who are learning to become a marketing & sales manager. In these trainings we looked back at the business meetings and discussed what went well and what could be improved. Also, we gave them some practical tips and we played some role plays. They are not yet ready to become the new marketing & sales person of Chako, mainly because their English is not good enough. Luckily, in the next month new volunteers will come to continue the training and hopefully within a couple of months one of them will be the new marketing & sales person of Chako.

In between these two main tasks we did some minor tasks. One of them was improving Chako’s online presentation. We did this by making a video which tells the story behind the products of Chako. This video is now shown on Chako’s Facebook page and the website.

Altogether we have learned a lot during our time in Zanzibar. We met a lot of amazing people and we wish Chako all the best in their new workplace.

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